L o r e n z o S c a r e t t i : T h e S c i e n c e o f L a u g h t e r

by Alan Jones

Images:
In the background
Francis Picabia, Cover of the Journal“291” No. 1, 1915.
Publication of 291, the pioneering art gallery located at 291
Fifth Avenue in New York City, from 1905 to 1917, created
and managed by photographer Alfred Stieglitz.
In the foreground, from left to right
“Janus Bifrons”, ancient divinity. In ancient Roman
religion and mythology, Janus is the god of beginnings
and transitions, thence also of gates, doors, doorways,
endings and time. He is usually a two-faced god since
he looks to the future and the past.
“Birth of Athena”, Hephaestus opens Zeus’s head with an
axe to releave him from an headache and Athena leaps
out fully grown and armed. Athena is the goddess of wisdom,
courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, just warfare,
mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill.
Man Ray, “Cadeau”, 1921.
René Magritte, “The Great War”, 1964
Lorenzo Scaretti: The Science of Laughter

 

 

Clichés are the armature of the absolute.

Tristan Tzara

That timeless classic beauty-pageant contestant, the Venus de Milo, who has held the job of greeting
generations of art worshippers at the Louvre Museum altar, received in 2004 a major re-adjustment. It
consists of no more than a semantic shift, or caption-- just enough to tip the scales from reverence to
laughter. Who, after having witnessed the act of immaculate vandalism which Lorenzo Scaretti inflicted
on this unarmed, unbikini'd and defenseless divinity, will ever be able to look her in the eyes again without
stifling a smile? Yet the sly artist has done nothing more than to detach the title of a well known
novel of Ernest Hemingway and apply it to the goddess: Farewell to Arms.

 

A

laughter2L.H.O.O.Q. (Elle a chaud au cul) Marcel Duchamp, 1919. Can be translated as "She has a hot ass". In a late interview (Schwarz 2003), Duchamp gave a loose translation of "L.H.O.O.Q." as the latter. it is also a pun in English as it can be pronounced as "look."

absurdity
ambiguity
avalanche
antedote 

articulation
apropriation
awe

Boys will be boys, as Prince Hamlet's mother used to say. A stroll down any city street past posters modified by youthful truants demonstrates this age-old princi ple. What then of the delinquent gesture of Marcel Duchamp when he drew a cavalier moustache on the Mona Lisa? Not leaving well enough alone, the prankster then inscribed the picture postcard with a cryptic but inane new title: L. H. O. O. Q. Duchamp's friend Francis Picabia, not be be outdone, stuck a stuffed monkey on a canvas and wrote below it: Portrait of Cézanne. Often it is the most infantile joke of the simpleton that sinks deeper into the memory like a dull knife rather than the most brilliant witticism of the comic genius. In a Buster Keaton -vs- Oscar Wilde contest, the smart money will be riding on the American. 

Marcel Duchamp discovered early on that the more tepid the joke is, the more excruciating its effect on the unsuspecting victim. Never one to spit in the soup, he served his humor impeccably lukewarm.

 

B

ballistic
banality
bullwark

Lorenzo Scaretti, after apéritif and hors-d'oeuvre, suggests the plât du jour: the "Whiting on the Wall" -- the fish itself served on a piquant mural of red brick -- or else a platter of "Soleless Plaice", both dishes well-accompanied by a carafe of chilled "D-Vine" grand cru 1973. Even though the menu changes from day to day with breakneck Nietzschian mountaintop-to-mountaintop audacity, the loyal clientele return in confident knowledge that the hand of the maître never wavers.


Claughter3Portrait de Cézanne, Francis Picabia, 1920. Reproduced in the first issue of“Cannibale”. common place conundrum Picabia had intended that a live monkey should be incorporated in this work, but was persuaded to compromise.

calesthenics
calibration
cascade
casino
casuality
catapult
charades
circuit
circus
clairvoyance
classic
cliché
colloquialism
comedy



Methods have their madness, and word-to-picture acrobatics is an unforgiving art. Lorenzo Scaretti on the triple-trapeze works without a net. Timing, balance, equipoise and equilibrium (et qui libre? ) are as essential in the kitchen as in the bullfight arena, on the ski slope, on the high wire of the circus, the magic show, or before the lights of the vaudeville theatre stage. Duke Ellington didn't need to consult the Duchess to know that if it don't got that swing it don't mean a thing. Strangely enough, photography works the same way: if Cartier-Bresson's gentleman with bowler hat and unbrella doesn't make the leap across the rain puddle, the whole shot is lost. The magic wand must make the dove appear with split-second finesse or else the illusion is shattered.A comic skit, or schtick, -- Shecky Green's "Take my wife,- please, anybody!" -- easily risks falling flat on its face when delivered by the neophyte stand-up comedian. For an exchange of tricks of the trade, Buster Keaton would have been welcomed with open arms as an esteemed colleague by Sir Isaac Newton.

 

Dlaughter4Buster Keaton Sherlock Jr. Silent film with score), 1924.

daredevil
datum
declination
defend
delectation
demystification
denominational
displacement
documentation
dogmatic
doxology
dubitativy

Our dilemma-within-the-dilemma when setting out to elucidate, in words, the "pictured word" works of Lorenzo Scaretti, is nothing less than fixing an arbitrary starting-line, since the field of vision that confronts us is so vast, and the perspectives so daunting, that our mind's eye must struggle with the mirage glimmering on distant horizons beyond the Dalì-esque grid of latitude and longitude toward a receding point of epistemological prospecting. For those blessed with the God-given gift of sight, there is no shortage of things to look at, but viewer beware: once one begins to connect the conceptual dots, one is unknowingly drawn into the mirrored labyrinth of associations which, once inside, must be followed.There is no turning back.

 

Elaughter5Traveller’s Folding Item, Marcel Duchamp, 1916. extravagance

eccentricity
echalon
egrigiousness
election
ellypticity
eloquence
encyclopedia
enigma
empiricism
epistemology
equilibration
explotation

 

The children at play glimpsed briefly in bright sunlight before they vanish behind the dark green of trimmed boxwood leave only their laughter on the air. A fleeting commonplace of summer but one which remains submerged in mind, until T.S. Eliot opens the pages of a Rudyard Kipling short story and finds the infant playmates once again, smelling once more the acrid odour of the box hedge and hearing the voices of the children unseen beyond the arbored maze of afternoon. The Belgian painter Paul Delvaux saw fit to call forth young ladies from their beds and contrive to have them sleepwalk nude beneath the hypnotic moonlight of abandonned train stations. Eugene Ionesco was once known to herd the hapless rhinoceros of René Magritte in a rampaging non-sequitur across the theatre stage before the bewildered black-tie public. With no warning, halfway through the Diaghilev-Cocteau-Picasso ballet Parade the music of Erik Satie is interrupted by the sound of a common manual typewriter.

 

F

facade
facility
factuality
fanaronade
fatality
fecondation
felicity
fenestrality
fiction
finesse
flyswatter
formula
frivolity


Robert Louis Stevenson once observed that the purpose of a formal education was to enable a man travelling alone to entertain himself during the hourse spent waiting at a country railway station. Comme ils sont beaux les trains manqués, said the poet Jules Laforgue. How beautiful they are, the trains we miss! That Marcel Proust amused himself with a bedtime biscuit, and that this midnight snack could be capable of provoking him to make-up-for-lost-time at the cost of countless bottles of ink and reams of writing paper, is an occurrence over which neuro-linguists would do well to ponder. There once lived a Romantic poet who could not write a single word without the presence of rotten apples on his desk.

G

gadget
gargoyle
garrulity
gladiators
glass
gothic
groundbreaking
guesswork
gutterspout
gyroscope


The American essayist Guy Davenport has spoken of the existence of a "geography of the imagination." The metaphysical dimension first hinted at by Max Klinger and Arnold Böcklin came to be dissociated by Giorgio de Chirico, consolidating an entirely new field of action (or inaction) of meta-banality, and thus set the aesthetic course for a century. The occasion of De Chirico's first exhibition in Paris inspired the poet Guillaume Apollinaire to commit to paper for the first time the word surréal, long before this adjective was hijacked by a librarian named André Breton, who --irony of ironies-- was later to "expell" De Chirico from the very movement which had been christened in his honor. It comes as no surprise that the father of Breton was employed as an archivist for the Gendarmerie. What is lost in translation comes back to us by way of a message in a bottle.

 


Hlaughter6Piazza, Giorgio De Chirico, 1920.

harmonics
heresy
hierarchy
hilarity
hobby
hold-all
homonym
hourglass
hyperbole

In the twilight the voices of the children are still faintly heard from the park; the desmoiselles return from their nocturnal promenade, puzzled by a half-remembered dream; the out-of-work rhinoceros, at lost for what to do, malingers in the alley at the entrée des artistes; the pastryshop has made a fortune off their famous certified-authentic Proustian cream-puffs; and the miniature choo-choo train of Giorgio de Chirico passes on schedule between sleeping and waking at the far side of the town square. In the birthday party diversion known as the "whispering game" the final garbled message might well reveal to us some eternal truth. Lorenzo Scaretti could be called a mapmaker charting the unclaimed geography of the imagination.

 

I

iconoclasm
identicality
ideogrammaticality
illusionlist
immediation
impeccability
implicitness
inevitablity
innuendo
insidiousness
intentionally
interposition
interspace
intervention
invective
inventive
inventory
investigativeness


The terrain of this enchanted promised land has often been described in woodland terms; it is crisscrossed with a myriad of well-trodden paths, and through this wilderness have roamed the most illustrious of sojourners on a great variety of missions: the golden fleece, the holy grail, the fountain of youth, the perfect dry martini. Beneath the sheltering yet oftimes disquieting umbrage of dell and dale have passed, in flight toward exile or on sacred quest, such heores as Gilgamesh, Orpheus, Odysseus, Dante, Sir Lancelot, Chaucer and his fellow package-tour pilgrims, John Bunyan, Ponce de Leon, Daniel Boone, Nerval, Baudelaire, Gautier... "Wie froh ich bin," cries Goethe's young Werther, "dass ich weg bin!" How glad I am to be away. The shadow line Arthur Rimbaud travelled, à la lisière des bois, between wood's edge and sun-drenched fields, between dark and light, means more than just the shortest path from one innkeeper's door to the next. It was a metaphysical journey unmeasured by mileposts.

J

jauntiness
jockey
jocularity
joke
judiciousness
juxtaposition

Commuters returning homeward after a long day's toil often can be seen relaxing on public transportation by matching wits with magazines of brain-teasers such as the Settimana Enigmatistica, full of migraneinducing crossword puzzles and exasperating visual games. "There are twenty differing details in these two pictures. Can you find them?" Anthropologists have shown that so-called "primitive societies" thrive on complexity, the more intricate the better, whether it be the grammatical structure of their torturous declinations, their interminable epic sagas, the endless daily game of tabu and superstition, or the elaborate intricacy of their decorative arts. Could it be that such a deliberate invention of this veritable obstacle-course of mental gymnastics was no more than a way for "early man" to let off steam in his frustration at realizing that what his mind could already conceive was too far ahead of his hand could yet put into practice? The outlet was willful complication and mental games of all sorts.
One would have liked to have posed the question to Marcel Duchamp.

 

K

kaleidoscope
laughter7Portrait of Marcel Duchamp, Viktor Obsatz, New York, 1953. kiosk 


kleptomania
knot
knowledgeability

It is altogether unnecessary to state thatMarcel Duchamp along with his illegitimate offspring Andy Warhol stand in the jungle of art as hieratic figures, consulted by cowering tribesmen as oracles, their every utterance dissected, shrunken and reboiled, then distilled by the witch-doctors of academia into the magic elixir to cure all aesthetic shortcomings of the sensibility, and to ward off the evil eye of the art market. In the struggle between the cerebral and the physical, between the intellectual as opposed to the optical, it could be said that the banner of Marcel Duchamp --in his campaign of disenchantment conceiled behind indifference-- has carried the day, while in the skirmish Pablo Picasso's brawny brigade made an orderly retreat to higher ground in order to regroup.The thinking-man's toy, the Readymade as devised and patented by Marcel Duchamp, would now seem to have made off with the prize, grasping the golden ring at the merry-go-round of the post-modern Luna Park. Feigned world-weary non-action has surpassed in prestige the heroic labors of sweating oil paint onto canvas

L

labyrinth
legerdemain
libration
ligature
lighthouse
linguistical
literality
locality
loophole
loquacity
lotus
luniformity


"The unknown," H.H. Monro --better known as Saki-- once wrote, is proverbially uncanny." The uncanny law of the Readymade, like selling the Brooklyn Bridge or the Colosseum, is diabolical in its simplicity: all you do is choose an object, any object, and then change said object's name. Oedipus immobilized the Sphinx, Hercules cleaned the stables, Saint George slew the dragon. And Duchamp? Duchamp killed the metaphor, and did a pretty good job on the concept of originality while he was at it. While painters struggled in the age of photography and cinema to revalidate their craft, Duchamp merely sidestepped the whole issue. Instead he started playing a game of his own invention, without any rivals with whom to be compared.
He cleverly covered his tracks so well that it has made him a hard act to follow ever since.

M

macaronicism 
magic
materiality
maze
medallion
memorandum
metabasis
metamorphosis
methodology
metronome
miscellanies
modulation
monad
multifaciousness
mythography

 

laughter8Cadeau, Man Ray, 1921.

The Readymade is an immaterial evocation, and in practice is close to another form of art which has been in existence for as long as has painting. It is the art of poetry. While the painter must depict, the poet need only evoke. In his epic poem Sordello, Robert Browning wishes us to see the city of Verona and so, with a flourish like a magician pulling back a curtain and extending his arm, declares: "Behold Verona!" Turning his back on traditional painting, Duchamp --deliberately or not-- took up the harp of Orpheus, the poet of divine gifts who could tame wild beasts with his music and words, and move mountains. Like Orpheus, Duchamp in his modest way, arrived at a method for moving mountains, by using no more than words for his feasts of aesthetic engineering.Object by being renamed, receive a sort of semiotical facelift, a new lease on life, not unlike the Federal Bureau of Investigation's "witness protection program", where innocent witnesses are given a new name and identity, not always of their own choosing. On the other side of the law, desperados have been known to vamoose to another part of the country under an assumed name. Pecos Bill becomes John Smith. In a way, the ceremony by which candidates were initiated into the noble order of Readymades consisted of no more than the bestowing of a title.When once asked about the influence Jules Laforgue had had on his work, Duchamp answered,
"I was mainly interested in his titles."

 

 

N

laughter9Tzanck check,Marcel Duchamp, Dec. 3, 1919, Paris.Collection Arturo Schwarz, Milan

namesake
nonsense
narration
nature morte
nomenclature
neo-nominality
notionality
nummularity
nuncupativity

 

Some baffled onlookers of course remain unconvinced. Even after listening to the usual explanations, they reply, "You can go on calling it a "Fountain" till the cows come home, but to me it still looks like a damn toilet bowl." It was Francis Picabia who once said, “Art is a phamaceutical product for imbeciles”. The thorny question still remains, however: Once transformed by Duchampian wizardry, and the object be demoted from Readymade status and reassume its former humble station? Could the artist carry this out verbally, as in Islamic divorces, or would a legal document be necessary? "I, the undersigned, hereby declare that from this day henceforward the bathroom fixture elevated by me under the title "Fountain" to its present status shall no longer be a work of art."
The jury is still out.

 

O

oblation
observatory
oculist
orbit
orchestration
orthography
outlandishness
owl

 

 

laughter11Personal values, René Magritte, 1952

René Magritte arrived at a sly form of translation, but instead of undertaking the rendering of Virgil's Latin into the understandable dialect of Scotland he arrived at a method which allowed him to translate words into pictures, the linguistical into the visual. It can hardly be said that he was the first to employ this trick of legerdemain.Their very game of naming can be said to be the very basis of early man's intellectual journey, whether in the useful practive of verbal communication or in the manually rendered depictions in cave sanctuaries or on the face of rocky cliffs. Magritte's methodology as painter-poet is to short circuit modern occidental man's long-standing perceptual habits by disrupting the split second message as it travels from the eye to the mind.
"I thought I was supposed to be looking at a picture," exclaims the average Western citizen, "and here I am stranded between cockeyed lexicon." One may do well ask himself if this form of linguistical sabotage could be even at all possible in civilizations such as those as Ancient Egypt, or even more to the point millennial China in which right up to the present day ideograms, like the ancient hieroglyphics along the Nile, are already in themselves pictures in miniature of the very things they mean to represent. The signifier and the signified live in a symbiosis far different from our alphabethized abstractions, so that naming maintains an intimate rapport with picturing, to the point that in China the poet can be legittimately be called a painter and the painter a poet, without the slightest distinction between the two. With this in mind it can be speculated that the eccentric Renaissance painter Arcimboldo would have enjoyed immediate success at the court of Tai-Tsong or Chi-tsong-hienHong-Ti in the Forbidden City.

laughter10Egyptian hieroglyphs from the Temple of Sobek and Haroeris in Kom Ombo. 180 BC during the Ptolemaic era.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 P

palindrome laughter12The Seducer, René Magritte, 1953. punctuality puzzleparabole
perpetuity
perplexity
phonetics
platitude
play
poetics
prepositionality
projectivety
propulsion
proscenium
provocation
pun

Let us look again at what René Magritte set out to achieve, and succeeded with such effortless alacrity in accomplishing. René Magritte's enterprise can be said to a great extent to be based almost exclusively on a sort of extension on the long known effect of trompe l'oeil in European painting , which in fact is a fondamental aspect of pictorial art from the prehistoric cave paintings to the fresco painting of the ancient Greeks which was known to attract real birds to pick at fictive grapes. Like the magician on the vaudeville stage confounding the eye of the beholder with his slight off hand, the trompe l'oeil painter disrupts the point-to-point visual navigation by which our eye charts its itinerary, of which Roland Barthes had much to say with regard to the eye's reading habits of photography.
But as they say at the carnival arcade, the hand is quicker than the hand.

Q

quantum
questionability
questionnaire
quiescence
quincunx
quintessence

quoin

Two distinguished ladies stood one rainy day not long ago gazing from a certain distance at a large canvas by Constable at the Tate Gallery in London.The painting depicted a rugged cliff fringed by towering oaks that have concealed a manor house looking down at the pools left on a pebble strand at low tide. A young man crouched before the lower corner of the vast painting so close that his nose almost touched its surface, which he seemed to be scrutinizing brushstroke by thick brushstroke. His pose, as well as his paint splattered trousers, betrayed his calling in life: a humble disciple of the Muse. In short, an art student. "From dear uncle Edgar's house behind those trees," one said to her friend, "we would scamper down that path to collect seashells and poke about in the beach rubble..." The ladies were, of course, looking at a picture; the art student, at a painting.

R

rambunctious laughter13I can see the whole room! And there’s nobody in it! which took place before the Constable Roy Liechtenstein, 1961. rationality
reality
rearrangement
rebus
recalcitrance
reciprocation
recomparition
redundancy
reduplicity
rhetoric
ribaldry
ridiculousness
risibility

René Magritte, in the tableau vivant painting could be easily imagined standing like one of his own figures in a black suit and bowler hat, half way between the ladies and the art student. It was with good reason that the great art dealer Leo Castelli, at the very beginning of his discovery of the pop artists of New York, found it useful to draw a parallel between the deliberately maldexterous technique of James Rosenquist to the comical cunning of Magritte, a painter of pictures, not of paintings.


S

sabotage
sample
secularity
simulation
slapstick
sonority
speculatrics
strategy
striptease
stuntman
subliminality
surprise
surreptitiousness
syntax
systematics


Modern science has been a challenge as well as an inspiration to practioners in all fields of art for well over a century. In the late 1800's, age of rapid upheaval in the science which were already beginning to affect everyday life, Jules Laforgue had the clairvoyance to confront questions of speculative cosmology and to gently mock his epoch's euphoric confidence in Progress which was given man the Faustian illusion that on some future day all his vulnerabilities would be overcome.
Prometheus Unbound meets Jules Verne and H.G.Wells. It is well to remember than Jules Laforgue had also translated Walt Whitman, first poet in history to sing the praises of indoor plumbing in an Ode:"drain pipe, gasometers, artificial fertilizers..." The ironic use of pseudo-scientific terminology in the verse of Laforgue caught the eye of the young Marcel Duchamp in his search for a dietary alternative to the fruit- salad of Impressionism, in order to devise an entirely new approach that would once more place art "in the service of the mind," a form of art that would no longer consist of "Landscape with Three Cows" in optional gold frame.With curious visitors coming from all over Europe, especial Paris, to see what the future held, Francis Picabia remarked, "Everyone speaks of the skyscrapers of New York.They forget that in France there is a fruit called the ass-scraper."


T

laughter14Why not sneeze Rose Selavy? sneeze. The temperature of his jokes Marcel Duchamp, 1921

tableau vivant target
tautology
telepathy
tickle
trap
travesty
trickster
trompe l'oeil
trope
trophy
typography

 

Humor, as a philosophical value in and unto itself, but also as a weapon, is present throughout the work of both Jules Laforgue and Marcel Duchamp.Why not was always kept low, looking to channel what in advertising is called the "annoyance factor" in order to wake up the viewer hoping to perplex him into a state of a heightened awareness. Duchamp would have chuckled over the little witticism which Sigmund Freud often enjoyed repeating: "Where do I send my patients with nerves? I send them to Nervi." It is strange that there are no laughs to be derived from a reading of Henri Bergson's writing on the subject of laughter. One might plausibly suspect that Marcel Duchamp would have shunned the films of Nanni Moretti and Roberto Benigni in favor of Peter Sellers or Jerry Lewis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

U

ubiquity
unicorn
unison
upholstery
urbanity
utility

One of the most exemplary precursors of the avantgarde remains Raymond Roussel, who provided more than a few moves in the playbook that were to be perfected by those who came after him. A gifted child when it came to everything from pistol shooting or the game of chess to poetry and piano, Roussel threw over a promising concert career to take up literature.This prince of laterday dandies could out-eccentrify even the most out-of-orbit challengers. He could easily have declared, as Sir Kenneth Clarke did in his autobiography, that "my mother and father belonged to a class which was once referred to the idle rich. Many were far richer, but none were more idle. "Circumstances thus allowed Raymond Roussel to cultivate his own strenuous idleness, bringing out at his own expense volumes of poetry as well as one of the most curious novels of all time, intitled Impressions d'Afrique. In an improbably ludicrous attempt to gain universal recognition for this most improbable of literary boondoggles, he rewrote it for the theatrical stage and bankrolled a production on the Paris Boulevards which ran all of three nights. What could possibly the problem have been ? Perhaps it was the general consensus of the time that convinced normal persons that the author would be better off in the nearest mental institution rather than on the stage. Roussel's approach to theater did in fact roam rather farafield from the Poetics of Aristotle. Roussel had undeniably arrived,however, at an obsessive method all his own, were he easily dispelled any need for dramatic plot whatsoever by replacing it with an intricate and deliriously nonsensical network of impenetrable wordgames in which to indentically sounding words brought forth arbitrarily a third utterly outlandish absurdity that could never have been attained by any stretch of human capacity for the ridiculous by any other procedure.

V

vaudeville veracity
verbality
vernacular
vertigo
visuality
vocabulary
vocality
vortex
vulgarity

 


The isolating of two separate images interlocked by being based on two words which while sounding alike possessed far different meanings, propelled the story onward into regions of the imagination theretofore unattained. Relentlessly cartesian rationality still ruled the diction yet the significance reeled uncontrollably into a new dimension. Absurdity gained a strange solemn dignity as word play pulled logic like stretch-rubber into grotesque contorsions.

laughter15First International Dada Fair,Berlin, 1920.

It was only long after that Roussel explained the secret workings of his mechanical manner of composition in the book comment j'ai écrit certains de mes livres. The effect on the innocent spectator was disorienting to say the very least, but it fell like rain on parched soil for the likes of Guillaume Apollinaire, Francis Picabia, and Marcel Duchamp. "I felt as a painter it was much better to be influenced by a writer rather than by another painter," Duchamp remarked many years later. " And Raymond Roussel showed me the way." Roussel can thus been seen as the unlikely standard-bearer of the future Dadaists, just as Douanier Rousseau held a place of honor at the banquet table of the Cubists.

 

W

warp
whirligig
wile
wisdom
wit
wizardry
wonder
writing
wrongness
wry

It would be impardonable to not mention the impact of James Joyce which was felt throughout the entire spectrum of early Twentieth Century arts.With Ulysses, the stream of consciousness technique of Joyce (while inspired by Les lauriers sont coupés of Dujardin) took its place beside collage in painting and cinema montage as tools which to this very day have found no replacements. Joyce expressed in concrete terms the psychological workings of our mental life revealing the manner in which the mind at all times is busy carrying on a continuous monologue with itself, a train of thought which can easily get sidetracked, distracted from its original destination, or for that matter even to run of the tracks completely. 

These digressions can wonder very far indeed, just as a grandmother's often-told story recounting an uncle's departure for a round-the-world voyage in the navy can effortlessly include an elaborate recipe for chicken taragon stew without straining the narrative in the least. Lawrence Sterne penned his novel Tristam Shandy as a single long digression. Such habits of thought can seem almost mechanical in their effortless leaps from one association to another as if the contents of memory were shaken in a sack and drawn out one after another like lottery tickets. Investors "put their money to work" in the money market, while at the memory-bank merges of disparate holdings yield high interest.While Freud spoke of sextrieb the anthropologist Leo Frobenius coined the term sprachtrieb: the urge to speak.
Lorenzo Scaretti channels his stream of consciousness between carefully raised embankments of well-conceived rhetorical engineering, which overflow periodically at given points to irrigate the loquacious foliage of his word garden. Lorenzo Scaretti, like Joyce, is an inveterate wordmonger. The distinguished French literary critic Auguste Bailly was among the first to describe the Irish writer's formula: "It works by association in much the same way as the children's game of word-chains, Mouche à miel; miel de Narbonne; bonne à tout faire; fer à cheval; valet de pique... It follows that, if the writer wishes to give a complete and accurate study of the mind of one of his characters, he must no longer employ the classical method of analyzing and segretating thoughts... We do not think on one plane only, but on many planes at once. It is wrong to suppose that we follow only one train of thought at a time..." It is difficult to think of a single visual artist who had the misfortune to be deaf. All athletic activities without exception are mute; the eloquence and the articulation of olympic sports remain exclusively physical. Johann Sebastian Bach is all in the ankle. Lorenzo Scaretti holds two black belts, one in the ju-jitzu of visual jargons, and another in the karate of phonetic calisthenics.

X

xanadu
xenogomy
xiphias
x-ray
xylophone

 

There are artists whose individual works we encounter as single confirmations in continuity with past labours; in such cases pinning the correct artist name on the work at first sight is the pride of many strolling connoisseurs. We happily congratulate ourselves for recognizing the predictably creative. After a certain point we feel so much at home with those flasks that inhabit the paintings of Giorgio Morandi that it almost seems as if we had often sat at that bleak table with the maestro himself and drained those dusty bottles dry. After a while it becomes painfully apparent that the cellar is sparcely stocked.
In other instances we enter hygienic white chambers to pass along canvas after canvas of uniform monochromatic abstract rigor, each conscientiously baring the same title: Untitled.
When however we set foot into the world of Lorenzo Scaretti we realize immediately that we are entering into an all-together different time zone.The note that is first most resoundingly struck is that of anything short of absolute singularity. The trap has been set with skill and it is not without amusement: as our feet stumble at what we had first taken for the solemn portals of a temple to sublime Art we soon discover ourselves the unprepared visitors at something that appears to be a cross between a mardi gras parade in downtown Rio and a techno-jamboree at a progressive liceo scientifico zealously dedicated to the promulgation of some of the more off-beat speculations of Giordano Bruno or Quintus Aucler.

Y

yardstick
yawn
yoga
yogi
yolk

After he rubbed his eyes for a moment and rose unsteadily to his feet, Dante's first question to Virgil was: "Where am I ?"
This inquiry has been often been repeated since then by pilgrims who have ventured into one or another of the conveniently located worlds that lie parallel to our habitual daily routines. Peter Pan in Neverland; Alice through the Looking Glass passing customs into Wonderland; Judy, Tin Man and the Lion on their first day in the newly recognized brakeaway Republic of Oz. Hänsel and Gretel littering the dark forest with their breadcrumbs; Punch and Judy indicted on charges of domestic violence; Pinocchio on the road, hitch-hiking to the coast; Huckleberry Finn and Pipi Longstockings going downriver --none of these brave wayfarers would have profited by possession of a Touring Club map or a specially issued visa from UNESCO. But we can well suspect that each of these beloved heroes and heroines had it all figured out right from the beginning no matter how hard they tried to not let on. The Yellow Brickroad à la lisière des bois --even if it takes us straight to the witch's gingerbread outled, to the perilous fortress of the flying monkey bodyguards or the flagship of the hook-handed bucaneer himself-- leads toward but one destination: the quest after true knowledge.


Z

zebra
zenith
zephyr
zigzag
zodiac
zonality
zouave
zygomorphicality


Lorenzo Scaretti distances his works one from the other like discrete sentences that culminate into a single paragraph, or clusters of notes into a musical phrase. A leitmotif seems to emerge as we pass from one work to the next with the ever-stronger sensation of standing before certain undecoded frescoes at Pompei where the Mysteries are reveiled to broad daylight but are not explained.
The work of Lorenzo Scaretti call upon us to mental exersions that only on rare occasions are required in our customary encounters with contemporary aesthetics. The sequence from one work to another is carefully plotted by the artist himself.

The initiate soon realizes that he is not standing in the presence of conventional easel paintings but, rather, he has the sensation of a face to face confrontation with the machinery of a never before seen speculative discipline, that challenges us into yet further efforts to attempt deciphering these enigmatic diagrams until at last there comes, maybe, one quick glimpse of what might be enlightenment.

A L A N J O N E S
Zagreb 2012